Saturday, 31 October 2009

Halloween Party

A party - haven't been to a party for some time - the day brightened up and was unseasonably mild for the time of year. Perfect for an outdoor party with a fire. Hosts have a firepit in which they were burning wooden palettes - making a raging heat, kept getting that fire burn thing - hot on one side and cold on the other. Then the fireworks were let off from the garden wall. Home fireworks displays always seem a little dangerous - but they all went off without event. First fireworks of the year. OOO, Ahhh, ooo.

(and one of Bails, for Harry, thrown in)

Monday, 12 October 2009

Smoke Firing Course

Weekend course delivered by Jane Perryman. Drove over to Suffolk - heavy rain. Leaves of gold and red. We took bisqued pieces ready for smoking (10cm or 25cm limit in size).

We did 4 different types of firing over the weekend. Gave a good idea of what can be achieved.
  1. saggar firing - black
  2. saggar firing - salt
  3. sawdust firing - overnight
  4. fast smoke firing

For the black saggar firing we prep'd pieces by doing some wax resist, wrapping in tin foil and piercing it, wrapping with string - all ways of resisting the smoke. Pieces were then further wrapped in tissue paper and packed into old paint tins, gaps filled with sawdust. Lids were then put on tightly and they were packed into a gas kiln and fired over night to 900 degrees.

My favourite result was from the pierced tin foil resist. Still had a bit of white clay showing through, smoking was very dark.

Saggar firing with salts was the only firing that introduced some colour. We prep'd half the peices by soaking them in a salt solution for an hour (water, table salt dissolved until the water would not hold any more. These pieces were then dried. Again we prep'd peices with resists - wax resist, string. Pieces could also be wrapped with copper wire, we put in some seaweed (some I wrapped over the pot with copper wire). Copper carbonate was liberally dusted over the pots as we packed them into metal and ceramic saggars along with more table salt. These saggars were more loosely packed with sawdust. Lidded but with a gap and packed into a gas kiln. Fired overnight to 900.

Liked the colours and flashing this produced. Dramatic. Really liked the lines made by the copper wire as well.

The results of the overnight smoke firing were not very exciting on my pots (mostly just black) but on other people's they had some interesting flashing from the smoke and resisted by digging parts of the pots into sand. It was a fairly dramatic firing though - lots of fire, later lots of smoke. Huge kiln to fire in - lots of pots all together. Fast firing however, did get me some drama. Pots were treated with resists again - resist slip was used this time - prep'd the day before the firing so the slip could dry thoroughly. I wrapped pots with string, feathers and honesty seeds and painted over resist slip. Where the slip was the smoke was resisted, and where there was other material the smoke from it burning was localised. The firing was done in metal bins or braziers packed with newspapers loosely scrunched and fired until the paper burned out (about 20 mins).

All pots were washed and cleaned off and shined up using beeswax polish.